It Takes a Family to Raise a Child

Suzann Darnall

I was appalled, but not surprised, by the MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry ad about children belonging to the community and not to their parents or families. It is a central tenant of the totalitarian mindset seen in statist regimes. I wasn't surprised because Hillary Clinton already raised this specter of Hitler Youth with her book, "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us". I was appalled because it is such a frightening prospect. Putting the government that can't manage its own "checkbook" in charge of molding millions of developing minds? Terrifying! I suspect this is just one of the many reasons why so many Conservative parents fear the indoctrination that seems to be happening ever more intensely in our public schools.

I do not believe in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child. I do think it helps when the neighbors are all on board with watching out for the children in a neighborhood. But, that is a very different thing from the so-called village raising the children.

Hillary Clinton and Melissa Harris-Perry are not talking about friends and family watching out for the young of the neighborhood and house. They are talking about government bureaucracies being in charge of raising your child. Making the decision about what the child eats, where the child goes to school, what the child wears, how the child is disciplined, what moral and ethical training the child receives, and the list never ends on what the government wants to decide about our children.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom. I was a stay-at-home mom. I raised two beautiful daughters. My oldest daughter is also a stay-at-home mom. My youngest is a working head-of-household.

My daughters are not perfect, nor are my grandchildren. But, they are overall healthy and happy. They are intelligent and reasonably well-rounded. I am arrogant enough to take some credit for this outcome. I was there for my daughters and they learned from me every day. Sometimes they learned what not to do, but often I was actually a good example. I have seen them passing the lessons along to their own children. I have also seen them making changes that better suit their circumstances or fit into the updated differences in our society.

The school and government did not decide how I would raise my children, feed my children, dress my children, or discipline my children. I did not allow them to intrude into those areas I felt to be my purview. My husband and I raised our girls. Now, they are raising their own children.

None of us have been inclined to turn our progeny over to the government. We do not believe our children belong to some amorphous state collective. They are ours. Just as we are theirs. We belong to each other . . . 'cause that's what makes us family.

It takes a family to raise a child. It might not be the traditional family of the past, but family does better than government. If you have doubts about this, just look around our society.

Look at the children who come from loving, supportive environments. Maybe it is not a two-parent home. Maybe they live in a multi-generational house. There are lots of ways to build a family nowadays. Some are blended, some are split apart. But, no matter the makeup of the family unit, it can be a strong positive influence for a child. A safe place to grow. These children are more likely to excel in school. Get jobs. Become productive members of society.

Compare that to the children being raised by the "village". Children living in unstable situations are so much more at risk. The family is so fractured as to not exist in any meaningful way. If not for food stamps and government assistance, the children would be unfed, unclothed and unsheltered. To make matters worse, these children are all too often the progeny of parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who grew up in similar circumstances.

Many of these children have trouble learning at school. They receive little or no religious education. They often get into trouble at early ages with the law. And, so, the cycle continues. Young girls pregnant while still children themselves. With the young fathers already absent as they serve time in juvenile detention or are sentenced to prison.

Yes, there are those exceptions to the rules on both sides. The child from a "good" home who goes bad or the child from a "bad" neighborhood who makes good. But, the averages are in favor of the child from a strong family to do well, while the child left to the protection of the "village" will likely struggle throughout life.

So, I say to Hillary and Melissa, if y'all want your progeny raised by a village . . . go for it! But, keep your danged paws off my kids!

'Cause I think me and my kinfolk will continue to do it the old-fashioned way. The familial way. Generations that go before help to raise and teach the generations that follow behind. As I learned so many lessons in life from my great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents, I now hope my grandchildren are learning from my children, my husband, and me. How to be a family. How to raise a child. How to preserve another right the government wants to leech away.

© Suzann C. Darnall, APRIL 2013

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